Lauvers - 1800's to 2006

Lauvers Mennonite Church had its beginnings in the hearts and minds of those attending the Cross Roads and Shelley (Brick) churches. Probably distance and transportation were major factors in erecting another meeting place. On February 27, 1867 , one acre of land was purchased from Jacob and Catherine Lauver for $50.00. It was deeded to John G. Graybill, John Kurtz, and Abram Winey, the building committee, probably also the trustees for these three churches. Built yet that year on what a nine year old helper called "just a brushy place" the meetinghouse was a 35' by 45' stone structure.

A year after the church was built the cemetery was first used for the burial of John Gingrich. Within 5 years the burials included Jacob Lauver from whom the land was purchased.

In the 1890's a spiritual revival occurred among the area churches. Simon Auker, minister at Lauvers, records that on January 1, 1896 , fifteen persons were baptized; and on April 21, 1897 , thirty were baptized. Although the services were held at Lauvers some of these were received into the Delaware and Lost Creek congregations. Among the class of thirty were the first three black persons received into the Lancaster Conference.
Gradually the congregation outgrew the stone building, but not before the first and last wedding took place in the old stone church. On October 13, 1925 , Mary Ferster & Roy Graybill and Esther Lauver & Nevin Bender were married. This was an unusual event as couples were generally married at the bride's home or at the house of the bishop.

In the spring of 1928 the old stone building was torn down and a brick building, 40 by 60 feet, costing $7,432.19 was built in its place. During this time Lauvers' services were held at the Brick church which had been used only for special meetings for a few years prior to this. On September 29, 1928 , in a combination praise, thanksgiving and harvest meeting, the church was dedicated free of debt.

When the brick-faced structure was built, it had two wood-burning furnaces in the basement. In the fall the men of the congregation would get together and cut wood, storing it in the basement near the furnace to be ready for the janitor at about 4:00 a.m. on a cold Sunday morning. Five of the janitors over the years have been named John, John Lauver, John Stuck, John Kauffman, John Gingrich and J. Lloyd Gingrich.

Remodeling and additions to the original brick building included kitchen equipment, Sunday school rooms and basement library, sound system, the auditorium redone and carpeted, cloak rooms and rest rooms added at the west end, porch roof added over the west entrance, and the original roof replaced.  The most recent remodeling added an addition to the east end with the dedication in 2006.

At the time the stone church was built ministers were ordained to serve the entire district. But apparently William Graybill, father of W.W. Graybill was the first minister ordained for the Lauvers congregation in 1868. Simon Auker followed him in 1897 and served for thirty years. W.W. Graybill was ordained a minister at Lauvers in 1904 and also served the Cross Roads congregation. He was ordained bishop in 1906 and served as bishop fifty-two years. William Lauver was ordained in 1917 and served four years as minister before going as a missionary to Argentina , South America . Jacob G. Brubaker was ordained in 1922 and Boyd Kauffman in 1951. Boyd served twelve years here. Allen Kauffman was ordained minister in 1965 and bishop in 1969. Carl Graybill was ordained minister in 1973 and bishop in 1984. Our current overseer is Marlin Ebersole.  John Gehman has now served our congregation for 20 years, first as a licensed minister in 1994, with ordination in 1997.

Jacob Oberholtzer was probably the first deacon ordained for Lauvers. Then Joseph Lauver served for twenty-eight years. Abraham K. Brubaker was ordained in 1913. Jacob G. Brubaker was ordained in 1922 and served as deacon four months before being ordained minister. Jacob Lauver was ordained in 1924 and William Shafer in 1957. Timothy Lauver was the last deacon at Lauvers; he transferred to Cross Roads when the Lauvers and Cross Roads congregations agreed to meet separately each Sunday beginning in March of 1989 (instead of meeting together and alternating meeting houses). The work of the deacon was transferred to elders, Ron Hershey and Ernest Landis first serving in 1991, with a church treasurer keeping the books.  Our current elders are Eric Brubaker, Mike Clark, Nevin Glick and Elvin Ranck.

The Lauvers congregation has been represented on the mission field in different places and times. As mentioned above William Lauver was released from the ministry to serve on the mission field. Clinton Fersters were sent to Tanganyika , Africa in 1935. Mary E. Lauver worked at the Altoona Mission. Others from the congregation served at the voluntary service units in Maine and Kentucky . John Gehmans went to Haiti in 1986. As an adult, their daughter, Angela, served in The Gambia, Africa . Elvin Rancks are also currently working with missions in Ghana .

A Union Sunday school was begun at the Evendale Schoolhouse on April 8, 1894 . The next year it was moved to the Lauvers Church and became a Mennonite Union Sunday School. If preaching was held at Lauvers, Sunday school would also be held in the morning. If the preaching service was at one of the other churches, the Sunday school would be held in the afternoon to allow congregants to attend both services. At first it was only held April to November. In the winter of 1918-1919 it was held several times and gradually became year round.

Good singing has also been important at Lauvers Singing schools were held here for the district. Over the 30 years of singing by the Juniata Valley Chorus a large percentage of participants came from Lauvers.

The first summer Bible school in the district began at Lauvers in 1940 and continued yearly until1995, first as a two week time period & later only one week at a time, with the exception of 2 years during WWII. Many community children attended as well as children from the congregation. The first teachers had to create their own materials until the late 1940's when Herald Press began publishing a summer Bible school series. In 1996 this children's ministry was changed to weekly or weekend functions as Crusaders. Winter Bible School , held Tuesday & Thursday evenings for six weeks, began December 31, 1946 . Lauvers was a central meeting place, but in 1970 this was moved to Lost Creek and Susquehanna.

In 1948 a youth group was organized for Lauvers and Cross Roads. The first activities included singing in local nursing homes, Middleburg jail and for older community folks. They distributed tracts in various areas and grew produce to sell. Currently the youth continue having Bible studies along with many different activities including canoe trips, a yearly soup supper, mission trips and other local activities.

The membership and attendance at Lauvers has fluctuated over the years. At the time of the separation of Lauvers & Cross Roads we had a very small group. Sunday morning could see a high attendance of 30. Thankfully, God's church has grown making one more reason for our remodeling and addition.

In an old church program this quotation was found. "It's a good thing to recognize our weaknesses, but a poor thing to build on them." As we move on as God's people, may we recognize our weaknesses, but build on God's strength.

Lauvers Mennonite Church
34585   Route 35
Richfield, PA 17086

(717) 463 - 9091

Service times: Sunday school 9 AM Worship 10 AM

The church family at Lauvers:

Careers include teachers, truck drivers, medical personnel, farmers, mechanics, homemakers,
All ages: God has blessed us with many children and youth.
Fun: softball, canoe trips, volleyball, fishing & hunting, fellowship meals every 2 months.
Support, caring, and sharing are important. People talk a long time after services. They enjoy each other and spend time together. They work hard and are involved and active in the community.